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Gathering turns to turkeys, blooms, mushrooms, and trout
Pair of Turkeys
A pair of wild turkeys feed along a clump of hazelnut shrubs during the season opener, April 17.

Gatherers are in the midst of hunting turkeys, searching for morels, keeping trout, photographing spring’s blooms, and enjoying Wisconsin’s country sides.

There are sundry ways to gather nature’s products, or as I call it ‘gathering Wisconsin.’ 

It seems handy and correct to use the gathering term in the broadest sense to cover picking, catching, observing, photographing, harvesting, and registering a day’s take.

Many times someone hunting turkeys, for example, is a hunter, then allows a gobbler to walk. Now he has become a gatherer who is simply satisfied to enjoy seeing and hearing spring turkeys.

Another hunter may, early during his or her hunting periods, choose to photograph birds and does not pick up his gun until later in the season, if ever.

A turkey hunter in Iowa County set up on the edge of a prairie bordered by deciduous woods opening day.  Six gobblers and numerous hens and jakes were attracted by his calling and decoys, too.  The hunter watched the first tom turkey walk past his line of fire.  “I just didn’t feel like shooting that turkey,” the hunter said.  “Later, I killed a tom who came within range.  I can’t really explain it, but that was my opening morning.”

Another hunter spent several hours watching a roosted hen turkey wake up, stand up on an oak limb, ruffle and arrange her feathers, and make a variety of tree calls before flying down to her tune of a fly down cackle.

This hunter was being a birder, scouter, photographer and observer of nature, who probably became a hunter the next day when his hunting period opened.  He was, with this experience, more informed about how much calling birds do prior to flying down.  Little was the hen turkey bothered by a person’s presence when both man and turkey were facing east as the sun rose.

Young hunters, during April 13-14, registered 3,866 birds.  In 2023, 3.040 birds were taken.  The success rate is usually 20 percent during the youth hunt. Hunters who drew a permit for periods A and B may want to purchase another authorization for a later period.  Numbers of permits available are charted on the DNR web site.

Still on the computer, notice that purchasing and entering the drawing for the State’s elk season in Clam Lake and Black River Falls areas.  Applicants must choose between the two areas.

Kate Mosley, at Kate’s Bait near Wisconsin’s Gov. Dodge State Park on Hwy. 23, said “expect the crappie bite to get back to near normal after experiencing a 10 degree water temperature drop with the last big snowfall.”

Heavy leaf litter from last fall and winter is making woodland foot travel noisy, then quieter but slippery when wet.  Game, particularly turkeys, are slowly losing their sighting advantage through open woodland under story.

Don Martin, at Martin’s in Monroe, Wisconsin, said he’s heard some positive reports from early turkey hunters.  Noteworthy was an inexperienced young hunter who was hunting from a blind with his father and became so excited when a raft of turkeys appeared that his exuberance sent the turkeys scattering.

Doug Williams, at D W Sports Center in Portage, Wisconsin noted hunters saying gobblers are “henned up” and have been difficult to pull to within range.  “Better weather will help hunters,” Williams said.  “In general hunters are encouraged and come in looking for more turkey hunting items.”

Some small woodland items have escaped suppliers and manufacturers, but try other avenues.   Camouflaged, light hunting gloves are mostly loose and bulky but eglove makes a light, tight-fitting gardeners glove that is ideal for spring turkey hunting.  Older, lighter face masks may be found in dollar stores.

Morel walking sticks and carrying bags are rarely for sale but can be picked up in any woods, and bags from BRINGIT or a plastic container in a backpack works, too.

A pen flashlight is strong enough to help walk to a turkey hunters thicket,  If a bigger light is desired Duracell tri-power rechargeable lantern has three power sources and is a power source itself once charged.

Wild asparagus is poking through, bloodroot ephemeral is blooming and elm and maple trees are developing tiny fruits.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at or 608.924.1112.